When is an EBT Not an EBT?


Rangers’ current state was instigated by Paul Baxendale-Walker. That name is not overly familiar, but he, as investigated by a previous blog entry, was the man responsible for proposing the EBT scheme to Sir David Murray in the late 80s/early 90s. The plunge into administration then consequent liquidation of Rangers PLC can be traced back to Sir David accepting Walker’s notion then enacting it. The concept of off-shore discretionary payments not liable to domestic tax which means players could be paid more money without those payments being as tax-deductable as they would otherwise be.
Perfectly legal, although undeniably dubious, and definitely with the potential for use within tax evasion if an unscrupulous individual went in that direction. There is no evidence of Rangers’ guilt to this end despite many quarters hanging them for it regardless.
However, within the past couple of weeks the SPL has begun formal investigation into these schemes, effectively endeavouring to examine whether or not Rangers broke fundamental league rules and can be legitimately stripped of their titles won during the period of their use.
Thankfully, Rangers have Charles Green in their corner, a man who quite simply does not suffer fools gladly. When asked why he was refusing to attend the opening hearing of the SPL’s investigation, Green offered a lengthy explanation summed up by the following:
            “The club cannot continue to participate in an SPL process that we believe is fundamentally misconceived.”
In simple terms Green has laid out one of the most infallible arguments as to why this entire investigation is invalid. Sadly for the SPL, and its member clubs, Rangers aren’t in it any more. Exactly how can an authority command jurisdiction over a club outwith its membership? This is exactly the same as the English Premier League punishing a Scottish team. Rangers are in the SFL, the SPL has absolutely no power over that league or any of the clubs in it, bar their media rights. 
            “The club ceased to be subject to the SPL’s rules when it was ejected from its league. Our lawyers have made that point repeatedly to the SPL in correspondence and yet our requests for an explanation from the SPL have been completely ignored. The SPL’s silence on these issues is deafening.”
Quite, Mr Green, quite. Put simply, the SPL refuse to communicate or justify their reasons to the club as to how they believe they can ‘enact justice’ over a team outwith their boundaries.
It is an absolutely absurd situation to be in that Rangers, a third division side, is being investigated by the SPL. If Rangers PLC still existed, and were still in the SPL, as much as the SPL would have a weak case, they would be legally entitled to investigated nevertheless. But that is not the outcome – Rangers are not answerable to the SPL and will not be unless one day they are again under their governance.
So, the ‘Kangaroo Court’ alluded to before is in full swing, and Skippy is the judge. But this is not even the most incredulous part.
Not only have the SPL appointed Harper MacLeod to investigate Rangers (a legal firm who have previously represented Celtic and had endorsements from Peter Lawwell on their website), as their ‘independent panel’ (same kind of ‘independent panel’ who inflicted the embargo upon Rangers, presumably), but to add gratuitous name-calling to massive wound have found Celtic themselves have ‘no case to answer’ despite the fact they too used EBT schemes in the past.
Let us repeat that. Rangers, under serious investigation over EBT use, are being investigated by a law firm, endorsed by Celtic, while the SPL throw out any investigations on Celtic who did exactly the same thing with EBT schemes.
Hmmm. This does not sound fair, consistent, impartial, non-biased or even professional. The dismissal of the Celtic case apparently hinges on the fact Juninho, in particular, was paid after leaving Celtic. Because he was not paid EBT while at Celtic, it is an entirely acceptable state of affairs.
This is a further level of ludicrous. Not only are Juninho’s payments post-Celtic unproven (where is the evidence they were indeed after he left Celtic), but exactly what difference does it make if they were? They are still EBT payments and Juninho still received the cash through them!
If the SPL believes this is fine, then their investigation of Rangers continues to reflect the total witch-hunt suffered in Govan by the powers that be. The bizarre cavalcade of explicitly illegitimate targeting of one club for the same ‘crime’ another one or several are excused for defies all logic.
Or it does not. After all, We Are Rangers.